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TD Magazine Article

Aspiring to More

At Florida Blue – GuideWell, employees work toward their aspirational jobs, strengthening their skills and transforming the company along the way.


Fri Jun 14 2024

Aspiring to More

Florida Blue – Guidewell: 2024 BEST Award Winner, #12

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At Florida Blue – GuideWell, employees work toward their aspirational jobs, strengthening their skills and transforming the company along the way.


This year marks Florida Blue – GuideWell's 10th BEST Award, earning it the Association for Talent Development's "Best of the BEST" distinction. But the company's talent management team isn't resting on its laurels. Just last year, the team launched a massive internal university that prepares employees for future roles. The team has also staked out a path for the company to become a digitally mature organization and helped it save millions of dollars through a Lean certification program, which helps employees increase cost efficiencies across the enterprise.

The talent management team's structured, forward-thinking approach to both employees' individual development and the organization's growth has helped propel Florida Blue – GuideWell beyond, well, Florida. During the past several years, the health insurance company has expanded nationwide and continues to grow its customer base. In turn, a strong dedication to employees' professional growth is the basis from which the organization operates.

"Building people up through creating, innovating, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible energizes us and continues to drive us in the work we do," says Philip Zoller, vice president of talent management. "In addition, the complete support we have from our most senior leaders has helped to influence and create the culture of learning our company has today."

A new degree of success

Employees manage their own professional development through the company's internal GuideWell University, which the talent management team launched in July 2023. The university comprises several "capability academies" that focus on strategic skill areas. Multiple types of content support each academy, including on-demand courses, instructor-led courses, boot camps, books, and videos. The talent management team has organized the content into learning journeys tailored to individual employees' progress as they work toward established benchmarks for critical skills.

"Access and consumption of content in GuideWell University is completely self-directed," says Zoller. "Team members use GuideWell University to create their professional development plans using the variety of content offered in the platform. They work with their leader to build their skills in the areas they desire to develop."


Leaders endeavor to align team members' development plans with business needs and strategic objectives. Focus areas may be leadership skills or targeted critical skills needed for the future of work.

Since its inception, the corporate university has experienced steadily increasing employee engagement. It has also resulted in more participation in training and professional development activities overall: Consumption of learning content increased 25 percent in the first quarter after the university launched. Staff accessed nearly 296,000 pieces of content and took more than 2,400 skill benchmarks in 2023. Subsequently, users have met more than 1,300 skill benchmarks, and 71 percent of users have increased their skills an average of nine points. That has helped close skills gaps across the enterprise in critical areas such as adaptability, strategic thinking, and communication.

The talent management team has also worked with colleges and universities on programs that enable staff to gain skills outside of work. For example, the talent management team partnered with Jacksonville University to co-create a master's degree in health informatics for employees interested in that career path, which will help address organizational skills gaps in data analytics and innovation.

Helping employees take the long view

When they set out to do their yearly professional development plans, employees are not only setting goals for their current role; they are also looking ahead to their next role and, beyond that, their aspirational role. Considering those three roles helps staff balance shorter-term, more immediate development needs with longer-term, future-oriented development plans, which could include multiyear efforts such as certifications, college degrees, and stretch assignments.

"This mindset of 'current role, next role, aspirational role' helps the learner know where to start as they create a plan with their leader," says Zoller. "When you know the role and the skills needed for that role, it is easier to plan out yearly goals for your development."


Embedding Lean skills into the culture

One of the company's strategic imperatives is to decrease spending across the enterprise so it can continue to offer affordable services to customers. That relies on a workforce that is skilled in Lean business practices. In 2020, the talent management team, in collaboration with the process optimization team, launched a Lean Competency System training program that has seen considerable success. Florida Blue – GuideWell now ranks in the top 35 from among 600 global Lean Competency System companies.

In 2023, the program resulted in 577 certified White Belts, 164 certified Green Belts, 35 Black Belts, and one Master Black Belt certification. That has led to eliminating 156,000 hours of waste and generated an estimated cost aversion of $15.3 million last year and $50 million since the program launched in 2020.

Building digital maturity

The talent management team has played a critical role in building digital maturity, another strategic imperative. The company identified organizational barriers to digital maturation and created an enterprise organizational transformation team to address the barriers. Based on the transformation work, the talent management team identified four key behaviors found in digitally mature organizations and established 20 distinct competencies that support each of those behaviors. It then curated web-based and microlearning content into learning plans for each competency.

"A few of the competencies that we grow in our leaders and team members in order to move forward in a digital age are having a strategic mindset, cultivating innovation, as well as driving results and engagement," Zoller explains. "Growing these competencies and having technical literacy is essential to meeting our customers' needs."

Florida Blue - GuideWell boils down its measure of digital maturity to how easily customers say they can interact with its tools online, which the company quantifies through a Net Promoter Score. "When our customers recommend us to other people, we know we are doing something right," Zoller says.

View the entire list of 2024 BEST Award winners.

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